June 2, 2021

Mid-Market CEOs Optimistic but Concerned About Inflation, Finds Marcum-Hofstra Survey

Mid-Market CEOs Optimistic but Concerned About Inflation, Finds Marcum-Hofstra Survey
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The business outlook among mid-market CEOs continues to improve, but their optimism is tempered by concerns about rising post-pandemic inflation, according to the latest CEO survey from Marcum LLP and Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business.

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About 90 percent of CEOs rated their economic outlook at a “5” or higher, up from 75 percent in the April 2021 survey. Nearly half -about 47 percent – said their outlook ranked at an “8” or higher, compared to 33 percent in the previous Marcum-Hofstra poll.

At the same time, though, about two thirds (67%) are worried that the recent spike in inflation may usher in a long-term inflationary cycle.

In addition, 56 percent of CEOs said they will continue to require employees to wear masks in the workplace, even though government mandates about mask-wearing are easing.

The survey polled leaders of 262 companies with annual revenues ranging from $5 million to more than $1 billion.

Hiring Outlook

An April Federal Reserve report indicated that hiring remains a significant challenge across multiple industries, a trend confirmed by the mid-market CEOs surveyed in the Marcum-Hofstra poll. An overwhelming majority – 79% – said they have hired, are actively recruiting or planning to hire more staff in the coming months. But almost the same number – 73% – said they are having, or expect to have, difficulty recruiting new hires.

“We are seeing that the competition for talent is already outpacing supply, as companies are moving rapidly to staff up now that the economy is beginning to reopen. This was a challenge in certain industries such as construction even pre-pandemic. Wages and training are going to have to catch up with demand to ensure that industries are prepared for future growth. The federal government’s ambitious spending plans to shore up the economy and strengthen the country’s infrastructure are very likely to intensify the need for workforce in the near-term,” said Jeffrey M. Weiner, Marcum’s chairman & chief executive officer.

Outlook Strongest in Construction, Real Estate, Financial Services

While the business outlook among CEOs is strong overall, it varies widely by industry. Leaders in the construction, energy and utility, real estate and financial services sectors are the most optimistic about the next 12 months. At least 60 percent of CEOs in these industries ranked their outlook at an “8” or higher.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 18 percent of retail CEOs ranked their outlook that high.

The Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey is a periodic gauge of mid-market CEOs’ outlook and their priorities for the next 12 months. It is conducted as part of the Zarb School of Business MBA curriculum, and developed and analyzed by Hofstra MBA students led by Dr. Andrew Forman, associate professor of international business and marketing, in partnership with Marcum.

“From their perspective on economic growth to their approach to health protocols, it’s clear that mid-market CEOs are taking a measured approach to this uncertain initial post-COVID period,” said Janet Lenaghan, dean of the Zarb School of Business. “This latest survey shows that CEOs, like the rest of us, are feeling the same restrained optimism about what the ‘new normal’ will look like.”

“This is an invaluable opportunity for our students to gain a deeper understanding of how business leaders navigate unprecedented, unpredictable conditions,” said Dr. Forman. “It’s one thing to learn about high-stakes business policy decisions after the fact. It’s quite another to have the opportunity to see those decisions unfold in real time, not to mention provide information that could be useful in making those decisions.”

Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey

About Marcum LLP
Marcum LLP is a top-ranked national accounting and advisory services firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurial, middle-market companies and high net worth individuals achieve their goals. Marcum offers industry-focused practices with specialized expertise to privately held and publicly registered companies, and nonprofit and social sector organizations. Through the Marcum Group, the Firm also provides a full complement of technology, wealth management, executive search and staffing, and strategic marketing services. Headquartered in New York City, Marcum has offices in major business markets across the U.S. and select international locations. Marcum is committed to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Firm is a founding member of LEA Global and is the exclusive U.S partner firm of ECOVIS International. Ever wonder where the people with all the answers get all the answers? #AskMarcum.

About the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University
Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business prepares students to become tomorrow’s global leaders. Located just 25 miles from New York City, Zarb students have access to internships and networking opportunities across every industry. The Zarb School combines entrepreneurial, hands-on learning and research with real-world experience and mentorship in state-of-the-art facilities, including a Behavioral Research in Business Lab, Center for Entrepreneurship, and academic trading room. Our undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting, management and entrepreneurship, marketing and international business, finance, and business analytics are ranked and recognized by US News & World Report. For more information, visit www.hofstra.edu/zarb.

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